A CHARITY is running a two-year project to research and tell the stories of men from East Wickham and Welling who fought in the First World War.

The East Wickham and Welling War Memorial Trust, which is a grant-giving charity, was awarded £31,600 in Heritage Lottery funding last year to launch the WElling WILL REMEMBER THEM project which will mark the centenary of the war.

The funding has enabled the training of community volunteers to undertake the research and write up the stories of individual soldiers and sailors.

These form a new online war memorial as part of the charity's new website.

Many of the research volunteers will also be visiting Ypres in Belgium in April to help with their research.

Linda Clayton, project manager and secretary of the charity, said: "Our charity was formed after the end of the First World War with the purpose of remembering the local men who gave their lives. "Our project has been about uncovering the stories of these men so that we can remember them as real people and not just names on a memorial and it is happening at a time that ties up with the national sentiment of commemoration of the war.

"We have been very lucky to recruit 18 dedicated research volunteers who are using sources at Bexley Local Studies and other resources to find out about those men who died, as well as survivors."

Children in Years 5 and 6 at Foster’s School in Welling also undertook a project last year to find out about the men who had attended their school and died in the war.

An exhibition will be taking place at Hall Place from September and a second exhibition will be displayed around Bexley. We are also be publishing a book, giving talks and holding workshops.

The charity is looking into the stories of 150 men who both died and survived and they want residents to look and see if they have any relatives on the website and to get in touch.

Linda said: "It has been very moving to find out some of the terrible stories about the men, some of whom were only boys of 15 years old when they enlisted, and fitting to be able to remember them whilst bringing out the heritage of Welling, which at the time of the war was a small, but growing village."

Nigel Betts, chairman of the charity, added: "Since launching our online war memorial in November, our website has had over 10,000 hits and is growing in popularity everyday.

"In terms of Lottery projects, I believe that "WElling WILL REMEMBER THEM" is outstanding." To find out more and see the soldier's and sailor’s stories visit http://www.ewt.org.uk